Poor Health Gut Can Be Just As Aging As The Sun

Medical science has established that if the skin could be protected from ongoing sun exposure, it would not appear to age past the age of 15 until biological changes occur in the 70’s.

Three important factors involved in aging and health of the skin are 

1. Sun

2. Hereditary factors

3. Gut health

Accelerated skin aging caused by cumulative sun exposure is a complex reactionary process. This process consists of countless changes that involve altered DNA biochemistry, breakdown of cell membranes and destructive effects on enzymes, proteins and amino acids, and abnormal changes to the immune stem that are essential for information processing necessary for healthy skin. In addition, UVA rays stimulate collagenase synthesis, resulting in collagen degradation. However, the sun isn’t all to blame.

The signs of true biological aging generally do not occur until the age of 70 or later. Biological aging consists primarily of a loss of tissue as well as a receding bone structure that results in a gaunt, sagging appearance. This is a factor you don’t have control over.

So, while the sun prematurely ages the skin, having poor gut health does as well. Your body is an amazing machine that wears down slowly. You cannot address skin conditions such as aging, without addressing the health of the body and mind. The key moderator of health is the gut.

When the integrity of the gut and balance of bacteria gets disturbed, it can have a huge impact on your skin. The gut and the skin have much in common, which contributes to the gut-skin axis. Both the gut and the skin play key roles as defenders against pathogens invading from the external environment. Bacteria and its byproducts interact with your immune system, metabolism, and endocrine pathways. When this system is compromised, it creates stress-related responses in the skin through the gut-skin axis. 

The bacteria in the gut can then impact things like skin cell turnover and different skin conditions including rosacea, dermatitis, acne, dryness and psoriasis.

Anxiety and stress play a role in the health of your gut as well. Stress leads to intestinal permeability and dysbiosis (dysbiosis refers to the imbalance of the gut microbiome and has the potential to negatively impact the skin microbiome and its basic function) in the gut. This, in turn, leads to inflammation that contributes to skin inflammation.

When our body is stressed it releases cortisol. Cortisol (stress hormone) weakens the skin's immune system, leading to oxidative (free radicals) stress, which manifests itself as wrinkles, lines and lackluster skin. It also increases inflammation in the body and conditions like eczema, rosacea and psoriasis can flare up. You may have noticed when you are very stressed your skin look flat, matte and takes on a greyish cast. Cortisol also pulls water from the skin, giving the skin a dehydrated and weathered appearance. This, too, ages the skin.

Getting back to gut health, I want to stress the importance of healthy intestinal microflora and its effect on skin health. 

Certain probiotics help with the general health of the skin. For example, consumption of Lactobaccillus paracasei NCC2461 has been found to reinforce the skin barrier function, as well as modulating the skin’s immune system and reducing sensitivity. This helps to maintain healthy skin homeostasis. Additionally, Bifidobacterium longum sp has helped to strengthen the barrier and decrease sensitivity; whereas kefir probiotics assists with wound healing, 

Probiotics also have the potential to protect against sun-induced damage. In one mice study, researchers found consuming probiotics provided protection from UV damage. In this study, one group of hairless mice were given oral administrated live Bifidobacterium breve strain Yakult for nine days, and another group consumed fermented milk containing the strain for 14 days. During the final four days of the study, the mice of both groups were irradiated using UV light for each day.  After 24 hours, the skin was evaluated to determine elasticity, appearance, and interleukin-1beta levels (a marker for inflammation). The researchers found that there was a significant level of prevention through consuming the probiotics with both groups compared to a control group.

Another probiotic strain, Lactobacillus rhamnosus SP1, provides benefits for those suffering from acne. In a double-blinded, placebo-controlled study, 20 adult subjects who had acne consumed either Lactobacillus rhamnosus SP1 LSP1  (75 mg/day) in a liquid formula for 12 weeks, while the control group consumed a liquid without the probiotics. Researchers analyzed skin biopsies before the treatment and at the end of the 12 weeks to look for insulin-like growth factor 1 and forkhead box protein gene expression. There was a 32% reduction in acne in the treated group, and they also had a 65% increase in the IGF1 and FOXO1. The placebo group experienced no changes.

Whether you have a skin disorder like acne or rosacea or simply want to prevent skin cancer and maintain radiant skin, it’s important to care for your gut. Dysbiosis can be the cause of your skin issues or it could be making it worse.

The basis of my skin care protocol involves nourishing the gut and nurturing the skin. I’ve been preaching this long before it became fashionable. I owe this approach to the Italians that steered me in the right direction during my formative years. They are meticulous about food and its effect on skin. They go so far as to prepare a special diet in the spring in anticipation of increased sun bathing during the hot summer months. The diet consists of foods that today have been scientifically verified to support the skin and mitigate against solar damage. 

So, my protocol starts by building the skin from within and working with the growth principle externally. I do not subscribe to tearing down the skin by way of aggressive treatments in order to transform. It simply isn’t necessarily, in fact, the consequences of aggressive treatments and heavy chemicals usage thins the skin in the long term, resulting in premature aging.

Transforming the skin is a comprehensive process that involves daily habits. In future posts I will share key points of my skin care protocol and the amazing products that deliver the results necessary to maintain radiant “ageless” skin.